The Genius of Apple Camps for Kids: A First-hand Experience

15 Comments

I posted a while back about Apple’s (s aapl) freely available Summer Camps for Kids. These camps let children pick an iLife application that they’d like to learn about during a 3-hour session in an Apple retail store.

applecamps

My son just attended his first Apple Camp and loved it. Since he’s younger — and because I was interested to see what it was all about — I went along with him for the 3-hour camp. The following is a recount of the experience, and what makes this Apple program so ingenious.

Welcome!

There were about a dozen kids on this particular day, each of whom were given a very cool green “Apple Camp” t-shirt upon arrival and sign-in. Geoff, the instructor, immediately learned the name of each camper. This seemed to be key in engaging the kids and keeping their interest and involvement for the remainder of the time. Now, my son is a bit on the shy side, but Geoff (and Apple) created such a comfortable environment that he had no problem interacting with the other kids and this relative stranger leading the group. This alone was a huge success in my book!

iTunes Store

This particular camp was focused on Garageband. As such, I expected a direct dive into the music-making iLife application, but Apple’s lesson plan started with the basics — a plan that came full circle in the end. They began by learning iTunes — looking for music in the iTunes store, specifically. Now I knew going in that this was essentially a great marketing campaign, designed to hopefully create life-long customers out of these kids, but Apple really went for the jugular!

The first thing the kids were shown how to do was search for music, movies, audio books, and so on in the iTunes Store. My son already knew about this, but hadn’t done it on his own before. (Now I’m thinking I’d better turn 1-click purchases off!) The intro to iTunes continued by showing the kids how to search their own music library for music they liked, and then create their own playlist, which they’d revisit later on at the end of the course.

Garageband

Now it was finally time to launch Garageband. To start, they were shown how to use the Learn to Play feature. (And let’s make sure everyone checks out the Artist Lessons that can be purchased at an additional cost! My son especially liked the Fall Out Boy lesson on “I Don’t Care.”) After a little playing with this premium content, they moved on to the Magic Garageband feature, where they saw how all the instruments went together to make a song. They were shown how to isolate some instruments and alter others, all the while getting a feel for Garageband’s potential and the user interface at the same time.

When they were finally given a chance to get into the Loops browser, a little bit of instruction was given on the user interface before they were set free to create their masterpieces from the available instruments and loops. And oh, by the way — there are additional Jam Packs that can be purchased for more loops! These references weren’t a big deal to me; after all, most of it was stuff I would love to buy anyway. Geoff went down the line during the free work time, helping kids as they went, and showing little tips as they seemed ready to absorb them. When it was time to save their music, they learned how to share it to iTunes and add it to their playlist. At this point they were given a blank CD, and taught how to burn their playlist.

Not Going Home Empty-Handed

So at the end of the Camp, my son came home with much more than just the knowledge of how to use Garageband to make some interesting music. He brought his work home on CD (which my wife is really glad to be listening to in the car…over and over again!), but also the desire to check out the iTunes Store, Learn to Play with real Artists, and tinker with endlessly available loops. Oh, and don’t forget the shirt that he’s worn for a couple of days, which has made him the envy of friends young and old!

Apple (and my hat’s off to the instructor, Geoff) did an incredible job of putting on a fun and informative technology camp for kids. Not only did the kids pick up some great skills and learn some new software, but Apple also managed to push some of its premium content at the same time. I’m OK with the marketing, too. I mean, it’s to be expected from a free offering! I was truly impressed with the program, and now my son is chomping at the bit for the next one, when he’ll get to learn iMovie. Great work, Apple. I’m sure you’ve secured yet another life-long customer in my son.

15 Comments

kathy

My kids attended an apple camp (presentations) this morning. Mixed Review. The camp was great for my 9 year old, but horrible for my 11 and 12 year olds.

The camp is definitely geared toward the 8-9 year olds that have never done much of anything on a mac. It was very basic instruction and got my 9 year old excited about using the software.

For my 11 and 12 year olds, they covered absolutely nothing that they did not already know. Additionally, the camp description said to bring your own laptop, photos, music, etc if you have them. They were excited to create cool presentations with their material. They didn’t touch what they brought. The camp had 15 kids and was broken into three groups so the 8 year olds were in the same group as 13 year olds. They could have equally broken the kids into experience level groups, but did not. Instead, 5 kids were huddled around one Mac in the store using the stores photos and music. Only the younger kids were allowed to work on the Mac. My 12 year old got 30 seconds of computer time (which my 9 year old even noticed and thought was unfair) My eleven year old left the group after an hour and sat with me for the rest of the session. The thirteen year old hung in for duration, but was really dissapointed.

In summary, great for the elementary school novice. Waste of time for middle school age kids that have done presentations for school work. Nothing new for them.

Colleen

The Apple Camps are great. My two children attended the Music and are currently attending the Photo Camp. The things they are creating have amazed me. The instructors work well with the kids. I am definitely an Apple Camp fan.

Chris

My 8 year old son just attended the iMovie camp and today is attending the Garage Band camp. He had a great time, made a friend, received a very cool t-shirt, learned, and became more interested in making and editing movies. My son is so proud of the movie he created we had to watch the dvd about 5 times last night.

I just received a text from my wife… she told me he is so absorbed in the music lesson he hasn’t looked up once. Bravo Apple!!!

awedri

I would have loved to have my mom or dad spend that kind of time with me. Lessons and camps were rare in my family of 6 plus. Any freebie trips, outings and adventures should be grabbed.

awedri

Carnz may not have had much interaction with parents in his or her childhood. maybe a little jealousy here? I think ANY quality time with parent and child is terrific. Tech skills are mandatory to make it in this world. I suppose the child would have had a better time in an arcade with druggies hanging about or alone in his room? I support any parents who make the time to engage with their kids.

STL

One reason we have teachers in school because it is easier to learn when an individual trained in teaching shows you how. Do we get brainwashed because with the advertisement of the publisher on the book? Heck no.

Having someone provide an overview and then bore in on some details is a quick way to learn about a computer application.

carnz is obviously a troll, exceeding jealous of everything Apple. Such a shame to miss the wonders of this great company.

Tony

I for one think that these camps sound great. I would much rather have kids get excited about computers and technology, beyond just games. I have a son and have tried to sign him up for a camp, but both times they have been full.

Carnz – your an idiot and it looks like you could have benefited from a free camp focused on word processing, especially spell check.

Anthony

I’m not usually a spelling- or grammar-nazi, but to misspell the word “genius” is a more than just a little ironic.

carnz

Are your serious?
Your are ok with your kid being brain washed? Even the Nazis used this methods.
Come’on, exactly what benefit do you see in teaching kids Garageband instead of a real instrument? What benefit do you see in educating your kid being a good customer?

Barry

Carnz- I think that’s really uncool… A child’s exposure to technology at a young age, adding to his/her comfort level, and being engaged at something that will benefit him in any arena, whether he goes on to be a musician or not is a very positive thing. They are involved in a project there that they normally would not be and saying this is somehow ‘brainwashing’ or being a “nazi” is plain idiotic.

You’ve apparently not used garageband if you think it in any way is supposed to replace ‘a real instrument.’ It is in fact used as a tool to teach using a real instrument and in mixing music.

carnz

@Barry:
I don’t make anyone a nazi. I’m just saying that they used the same methods. Maybe you are right and this is a bad comparison, but they are still brainwashed somehow.
If you teach kids how to buy your products in such a manner, that they would think it is a cool thing to do, than this is brainwashing for me. This is more a subtle brainwash and
not the brute force kind of brainwash.
People think that they live free and have access to free press in the western world, but they don’t. This is another topic though, but you are being brainwashed every day. Me too..
I just can’t understand what the benefit would be in being a good apple customer. Because this is the more important thing he learned.
If working with Garageband is such a great thing to know why not trying to show it yourself to your kid?

Apple User

I’m afraid brain-washing is a bit unfair in regards to using Apple products and software. Sure, Apple Camp is a great marketing tool, but what about the great opportunities now made available through a simple, powerful, easy to use application? Would you really call fueling a child dream brain washing?

Garage Band does not only allow you to create music using loops. You can record music using real instruments, and share them with others. This is were the lessons come in handy. Apple makes sure to walk with the consumer every step of the way.

Its one thing to brain wash, its another to inspire. I don’t think we have the extermination of these children, or their dreams, in mind.

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